Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fire Safety with Little Ones

We're between Fire Prevention Week and Fall Back & Change the Batteries in Your Smoke Detector time right now, so I've been thinking about fire safety quite a bit. So, imagine the "The More You Know" ad intro from the 80's and 90's and then read my public service announcement (or just hit "play" in the box below)!

I am generally annoyed by all of the "What to Do in Case of a Fire" stuff that comes around. Geez! I know this stuff. Why do they keep bombarding me with it?! From the time a kid starts school, at least once a year, they are taught about fire safety. "Stop, drop, & roll". If there's smoke, crawl. Have family fire drills...

We're on the second floor of a house-turned-duplex. It's kind of hard to explain the set-up, but here goes: We use the door that used to be the house's back door. It is on the first floor of the house and our only way in and out. You walk inside and there are stairs that lead you to our apartment. These stairs are the original stairs to the second floor of the house - they're wooden and old. Beneath them is the downstairs apartment's kitchen. We have two kitchen windows that are over the downstairs apartment's porch roof. The bathroom, bedroom, and living room all have windows that would be extremely dangerous to jump from in an emergency.
Porch under our kitchen windows
Our "front door" and living room window

You just don't know how careful the people downstairs are going to be. We've had neighbors that were alcoholics, drug dealers, and one lady who ALWAYS seemed to forget she had put something into the oven. Luckily, we've never had to evacuate due to the neighbors' negligence or mistakes, but you just never know. So, when we moved in, nearly 6 years ago, it was important for us to make a plan. I bought three $15 rope ladders to keep by the windows that were too high to jump from. I had hubby climb out both of the kitchen windows to make sure we could reach the porch roof, if need be. We installed a smoke detector (in addition to the two we have hard-wired) down at the bottom of the steps just in case the downstairs caught fire - early warning system, you know?

And, yes, we had fire drills, made little maps of how to get out of each room, decided where we'd meet outside if we did need to get out fast... We checked out books from the library about fire safety, practiced "Stop, drop, & roll",  crawled all around the house as if it were filled with smoke, etc. My oldest, at 7 years old, was well-schooled. I would even give him little pop quizzes from time-to-time. Then I just let the subject drop. We all knew what to do, so why keep nagging until no one listened?

Yeah. The Fire Station Open House that we recently attended made me think that Little Guy is old enough to start learning about this kind of thing. So, I went over all of it with him. We're still practicing because repetition, in this case, is the best thing I can think of to get him to remember. As I was telling Little Guy about the escape plan, The Oldest walked in. "Hey, Oldest, how about you tell Little Guy about how to get out if the steps are on fire?" Blank. Stare.

He had completely forgotten. He didn't even remember "stop, drop, and roll" or that we have rope ladders near the windows. That's when I roped Hubby into the conversation. We don't have "Family Meetings", but I guess that's what you'd call this - with brownies! We did a fire drill, crawled on the floor, rolled around in the grass, etc. I drew a map of our apartment and posted it on the fridge (using an old dry erase calendar we never use.) It's there every time you open the refrigerator, so I'm hoping it will eventually get burned into memories!

My plan is to do the whole "training" over again each time we change the clocks - the same time we replace the batteries in the smoke detectors. I feel so guilty for not keeping up with my oldest's knowledge of what to do. Can you imagine if we had a fire and I couldn't get to him?! I don't want to...